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Appropriate Self-Love

The truth is...  that most of us do not love ourselves nearly well enough, and this is the cause of so much of the pain that is inflicted on others. When seen though a clear lens, "Do I love myself?" is an essential and illuminating question....

True love, though, is not an emotion or an attraction. And it has nothing to do with safety and acceptance. Quite the contrary: While false love arises from the fear of lack and the need to receive, true love always arises from gratitude and the determination to give. True love appears when we courageously see our fears as they are, and surrender to the knowledge that creation is good and that all life is part of a greater plan, for which we are responsible.

True love can be defined as: The commitment to know, experience and contribute as deeply as possible to the growth of someone or something.

This definition tells us that true love is an investigation, in which you seek to deeply know something or someone in order to be of service. Just as one who truly loves gardening will eagerly read books and attend lectures about horticulture so that he/she may more effectively tend the beloved plants, one who truly loves another will naturally want to know as much as possible about the other in order anticipate and care for his/her needs. True love is also an experience, in which you seek to feel the emotions and inner reality of someone so that you can draw close. Just as one who truly loves art goes to museums to experience the world through an artist's eyes, one who truly loves another will seek to connect to another at a deep emotional level to share his/her pain and joy. And true love is a conscious action, in which you find ways to assist in the growth of someone or something. Just as one who truly loves justice will work to help the innocent and to identify those who do harm, one who truly loves another will continually find ways to help him/her become more fully realized.

This definition is very much aligned with the biblical injunction about love: "You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your might." This typical translation, however, does not reveal the inner meaning that is embedded in the Hebrew. A fuller translation reads, "Love all of life -- the imminent spark that animates your consciousness (Adonai), and the transcendent mystery of creation (Elohim) -- with all your knowing, with all your feeling and with all your determination to act." These three components -- knowing, experiencing, acting -- are the fullness of true love....

False self-love is: The desperate need to feel that I am better, and therefore more deserving, than others, so that I will feel special and will not be abandoned. True self-love is: The commitment to objectively know myself as I am, to fully experience life as it comes to me, and to honor my potential by continually seeking ways to grow.

- Rabbi Alan Lurie , "What Does The Bible Tell Us About Self-Love?" Huffington Post, Jan 25, 2012.